Robin's Worst Week - A requested reposting from the old s_d This is from Batman 246 - Story by Frank Robbins, Art by Dick Dillin, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano
It's one of those covers that I'm sure just LEAPT off of the gets endlessly repeated by those with delightfully prurient minds.. in other words the entire membership of scans_daily!
But what goes on inside this testament to the perils of dabbling with autoerotic asphyxiation horror and fear? This masterclass in "Sidekick in peril"-dom? Now the story can be told... well, selected chunks of it. (I think this totals out at around 7 pages from a 23 page story.)
We start with this splash page, which tells us things are not going to be looking good for our Teen Wonder in this story:
In the space of one page is he hit with an arrow, stabbed with a sword, hung from a noose and drowned with a weight chained around his ankles. Oh, and one where he appears to have been mugged by the Riddler (But note even there, the gratuitous ass shot peeking out from under the cape drape). And a very upset looking Batman in the middle. No one likes to see their favourite toy broken because other people wouldn't play nice with it.. I mean "him".
I swear, that title just defies parody, even on scans_daily, whose membership has probably already written several books on precisely how!
We start with Batman summoned by a fake Batsignal, only to find a mysteriously silent shape waiting for him
Panel 2 - Or possibly he's just PO'd that you forgot his last birthday and is sulking.
Panel 4 - Oops! or not....
Leaving the fate of his plummeting, arrow-struck sidekick to one side, as he's clearly more worried about his own hide (Way to win father of the year Bruce) Batman swiftly finds a remote controlled crossbow and THEN goes to check on Dick, who, with an arrow sticking out of his heart and landing from a fall like that, looks to be pretty much worm food.
But wait, it's not Dick at all, it's a dummy! Or possibly he’s call Dick a dummy (Which isn't very nice), but this was the 1970’s pre Bat-prat so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
(On the plus side at least he doesn’t say "This is nearly as good quality as the Robin dummies I use in the Batcave for sex sparring!")
So where is the real Robin? Could the striped arrow be a clue? Well it pretty much has to be as there aren’t any others… aside from all that high tech arrow-firing gear someone left behind and must have bought at some point, but this is a whodunit of the old school so we'll leave the "plain sight" clues to one side.
But first, try the obvious ways of finding out where Robin is...
Yeah, yeah, we know you're jealous Bats
On the other hand, maybe NOT that much to worry about. Good grief Dick, you're the studly young heir to a billion dollar fortune, you can do better than HER as a bedwarmer, surely?
(Images of Robin trussed up like a Christmas turkey are distinctly... odd. Not unpleasant as a tie-em-up scenario to be be sure, but "vore" isn't my thing though, mercifully)
Batman deduces that the clue refers to the Striped Arrow Country Club, at 11pm the next night. Way to go world's greatest detective!!
Now, if I were Batman I'd be haring off to the place there and then, to take it apart, looking for captive Robin's, By God, if anyone's going to tie up and gag a Robin it's going to be Batman goddam it! they're going to pay!
Instead of this, however, Batman whiles away a day trying to find out where Dick is, and then ambles along just in time to watch the from out front. That way he has a great view of the next unfortunate scene
The magic act of Chandra the Magnificent and his sword trick ends with an unplanned guest appearance in the manner of "Police Squad" opening titles.
Again, rather than checking on his bestest little buddy (who has a ruddy great sword sticking out his back), Batman sets off after the magician, who challenges him to a duel with swords.. except being a magic act, Batman's turns into a bunch of flowers halfway through the fight, which sort of makes things uneven. A well placed smokebomb later, the bad guy gets away.
NOW Batman goes to check, and finds that this is indeed another sex toy dummy. with another note... and again with PS's!
And does Batman make any attempt to find out who the magician really was? Does he question the magician glamorous assistant? No, does he examine the weapon for any evidence trace, again, no.
Instead, we get a scene worthy of the 60's TV show. He takes a "cape" and "sword" and from this deduces that the next murder will take place at "Swordfish Pier off Cape Fear"... This is impressive, as the only reason the words fish and fear enter into the equation are his own ramblings, and the bad guy also left behind a top hat and a latex mask, so "Good grief, he's at the Great Heavens Rubber Hat Factory!" would be just as valid!
(Guess where THIS one is going?)
So Batman dutifully shows up on a conveniently foggy pier on time (Does the word "stakeout" mean anything to you Bat's? The guy has given you a 24 hour head start here, and you decide to show up on time? Good manners yes, good method for rescuing captive sidekick, not so much. But he's in just enough time to see this...
Now, to his credit, this time Batman does the right thing, and leaps to Robin's rescue rather than worry about his own safety. One might have thought the easy thing to do would be to check to see if there was a pulse, facial expression or air bubbles, or indeed any sign of actual flesh on the dummy. But no, Batman climbs hand over fist down the length of Robin (Purely for professional reasons I'm sure) and starts cutting the chain.
He stops when he noticed a message written on the side of the block, reading "Fooled again, Batman! Will tomorrow night be the real thing?"
Upon reading the message Batman promptly takes it at it's word (and again rather than, say, check that this Robin was doing anything like oh I don't know, DROWNING) swims back up to the surface. If that had been the real Robin after all, he'd have every right to be annoyed... for whatever time he had left. Oh, and some member of the Gotham City Scuba Club is in for one heck of a surprise someday...
With another leap of mental of logic that would have the Riddler going "You're just making this shit up as you go along, aren't you?" Batman works out that the next location will be the OTHER place sailors are buried...
St Elmo's Graveyard, where we come across the still rather disturbing cover image.
Clearly Batman is now suffering deep sexual frustrations, with all these sextoy dummy Robin's around and he's not getting to play with any of them! Life's not fair!
It's odd that Batman now bemoans the lack of a clue about the next site, considering how scanty they were in the past. I'm sure there's a bar called "The Throttled Sidekick" or "The Well Hung Bird" or even "The Scantily-Clad Catamite Club" somewhere in Gotham.
Finally realising that there is a pattern to the killings; arrow, sword, drowning and hanging that match the MO's of the four killers currently in Gotham's death row, but there was a fifth, that Batman can't remember for no apparent reason. So he makes a call.
So the name is finally revealed and....it’s no one we’ve ever heard of before, nor will hear from again! Emil Ravek, out of prison a week on a technicality!
Last WEEK? This guy has managed to be freed from jail, establish a base of operations in the Waxworks Museum, take a trip out to Hudson University specifically, and sadly never shown, to kidnap the Teen Wonder, make very lifelike (and possibly anatomically accurate) waxwork models of him AND his costume, and set up an elaborate series of death-traps inside a week? Oh, and perform as a magician in public. Whatever else you might say, this guy has a real “Can do” attitude you just gotta admire!
We're in the home stretch now.
(I actually left the top panels in only to hightlight how tricky it must be for Batman to be able to sweat THROUGH his cowl. He's REALLY missing his little Robin now, that's for sure. A Batman got NEEDS dammit)
At this point one has to wonder about Batman's mental faculties again. He's plucked amazing word combos out of the aether, worked out chains of events which would baffle Holmes on a good day, but it took him FOUR DAYS to put together that someone is murdering waxworks... and that there's a place in Gotham called the "Waxworks Murder Museum" which was the haunt of a serial killer, and he's never checked up on the place? (True, in Gotham it's probably hard to find ANYWHERE which hasn't inspired at least ONE serial killer/criminal genius, but even so...) Or even investigate where any of these wax dummies came from in the first place? But I digress....
So we see that Robin is, as he so often has been, drugged, and tied up on the floor buy the bad guy.... for at least FIVE DAYS!
In the first place even the Teen Wonder 's gonna be kind of... rank after that, and second of all, and I hate to bring this up, but there's the matter of basic.. well, biological needs to contend with. I understand the Bat-clan have got iron bladder control (Batman probably has a lockable chamber with a waterfall and “Drip, drip drip little April shower” on continuous muzak loop, AND NO TOILET, to test them), but for pities sake, five days unconscious? That’s not willpower, that’s a medical problem!
Possibly it's linked to his complete absence of stubble, does Dick use electrolysis or something? I can't think of anyone aged 18+ who doesn't have at least a whisper of stubble after nearly a week.
Now I was impressed by Ravek's skills, but c'mon; you're a depraved lunatic, you've got one of the hottest guys on the planet tied up and drugged in your power, and best you can do is monologuing at him? Sigh, villains those days had no imagination. What a waste. (Or maybe he's the reason Dick has no stubble, having been given a wax job like no other by Ravek....
Anyway, now Ravek see’s that Batman is conveniently coming in a window he can see he decides it’s time to start things going for real.
See, this guy had potential to be a player in Gotham, he has a flair for drama second to none! First time out and he's already staging elaborate fake death scenes and the final one is worthy of Vincent Price in his prime.
Alfred would be proud of Dick here as, even drugged he still holds his head up!
Plus his plan is a suitably warped one. Don't kill Batman, kill Robin whilst Batman watches! That way Ravek gets his murerous jollies, and Batman goes nuts. A win win for the bad guy!
(I like Batman’s fingering of his own throat there, nice bit of empathising the point, so to speak.)
A neatly timed bit of platter tossing (probably learned from Alfred) saves our Teen Wonder, but Ravek again shows his dedication to a plab by continuing trying to cut Robins head off, this time with a handy axe (always nice to see a villain with a backup plan)
A brief fight ensures, and Batman stops him, throwing him into a display and essentially stopping him cold with a heavy dose of poetic justice.
Dick wakes up in Batman’s arms in one of the slashiest images since the 1940’s. I mean c’mon… it just screams “Mmmmmmmwah!” Batman appears to be straddling him!
Note that in the next panel, Robin appears to be about four foot three for no reason, but we overlook that as despite having been tied up and rendered unconscious for nearly a week, despite probably needing to pee like a racehorse, he manages to make a lame joke.
See Dick, that's why we love ya so much (aside from the fact you continue to wear those gloriously tight briefs past the onset of puberty) , you take a licking (and in Batman's case, that's probably literal by this point) and keep on ticking!